In the last post I discussed how DNA works and why it is a problem for evolutionary theory. One of the few things I did not discuss in that article was mutations. If you have not read my Understanding DNA post yet, I would recommend doing so as background for this post. I have linked it at the end of the article. What I say here will make far more sense having read it. With that out of the way what are mutations? According to dictionary.com, a mutation is :
In a general sense, a mutation is any change to the genetic code. It is estimated that most organisms introduce sixty-four new mutations into their genome every time they go through the cellular replication cycle. For viruses, this is exponentially more, which is why it is difficult for scientists to create vaccines for common viral illnesses. Since the average human being goes through more than 10,000 trillion cell divisions in their lifetime, you can just imagine how many mutations that would cause. However, most mutations are completely benign. Well over ninety-nine percent of mutations do not do anything. They either are a like for like replacement, or they change a codon in such a way that they still code for the same amino acid.
Mutations become a problem when they begin changing what amino acid the DNA codon codes for. There are five common types of mutations to the genetic code. The first is a simple deletion, and, as the name implies, it removes a section of the DNA strand. Sometimes this is paired with the second type, an insertion mutation, which simply drops a new section of DNA into the code. A repeat expansion mutation happens when a particular set of nucleotides is duplicated too many times in a row, pushing other codons out of sequence. Another type of mutation is the frameshift mutation. This mutation essentially takes an extended section of the DNA strand and shuffles it to a new place in the strand. The fifth type is the substitution mutation, where one codon is substituted for another.
The above mutation types are assigned together into two over arching groups, based on what they do. The first such group is the Missense mutation. A Missense mutation changes at least one, sometimes more amino acids on a protein chain, making it either fold incorrectly, or fold into an entirely different protein. It basically changes the meaning of the DNA codons to something different than it’s original meaning. The second over arching group is the Nonsense mutations. Nonsense mutations are called such because they turn DNA strands into unreadable nonsense. They do this, by introducing stop codons in places they do not belong. This makes the ribosome interpret the resulting RNA strand incorrectly, and thus craft incomplete polypeptides. Incomplete amino acid chains cannot fold into proteins and thus cannot be used by the cell.
All the background aside, mutations are a big deal because of what evolutionists claim they have the ability to do. They view mutations as the mechanism of evolutionary change. They argue that mutations can, given enough time, change an animal from one type to another. This is was evident in my article on Dimetrodon where I pointed out the evolutionists considered it a “premammal”. They believe that the Dimetrodon was just one step on the path life took from microscopic bacteria to mammalian life and man.
In order to prove this, evolutionists will cite numerous examples of something called speciation. Speciation is defined as “the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution.” Other than the use of the word evolution in the definition, I one hundred percent agree, that happens. New species do form. However, the Bible never once uses the word species when discussing how animals reproduce. Genesis 1:21 says “And God created great whales and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” So what is a kind? Based on the text above, it is reasonable to believe that this would include any organism that can mate and produce offspring with another. Examples would be the dog kind or the cat kind. Cheetahs, Leopards, Lynx and tabby cats can all breed together and produce offspring. Therefore, based on the Creationist worldview, they would be the same kind of organism, just like the Bible says. The reason we have Lynx, Leopards, Cheetahs and the like is due to the speciation effect. However, what speciation does not do, is change a Lynx into a Lemur.
To change a Lynx to a Lemur, evolutionists have to rely on another mechanism. This is where mutations come into play. Speciation relies on variation within the kinds of organisms. Over generations, these variations are intensified into the characteristics of a given species, such as the cheetah’s trademark spots, or a male lion’s mane. However, the information for these characteristics was already present within the kind’s DNA. Anyone who breeds animals can tell you that information is lost in the process of creating a new breed. If you start with two Chihuahuas you will never, no matter how long you try, be able to produce a Great Dane. The information is no longer in the genetic code. If you want to create a Great Dane, you would need to start with a wild dog or wolf and breed down from there, losing information the whole way. So how would new information get into the genetic code? Evolutionists believe mutations are their answer.
Mutations are the vehicle evolution depends on to manufacture changes between kinds, the Lynx to Lemur comparison from above. Is this a possibility? That depends entirely on whether mutations can introduce new information into the genetic code. If they can, then mutations are a valid vehicle for change between kinds of organism. Unfortunately for the evolutionist, this is where what we discussed earlier about DNA becomes important. None of the various types of mutations we discussed above add one iota of information to the genetic code. They all remove information from the code or mangle existing information.
The evolutionist believes that the fact that the information is sometimes mangled rather than removed entirely give him a foothold. They claim that by mangling the existing code, mutations actually create new information, resulting in beneficial mutations manifesting in the organism. However, examples of these beneficial mutations are hard to come by. One common example cited is the fact that some people are born with a disease called sickle-cell anemia. Basically, some blood cells adopt a sickle shape, making them less able to carry oxygen and more likely to clog arteries and veins. However, people with this trait are significantly less likely to get malaria. Thus the evolutionists claim it is beneficial. The only way sickle-cell anemia could be seen as beneficial is if it was needed as evidence to support a worldview. Both sickle-cell anemia and malaria are harmful, not beneficial. The best the evolutionist has to offer with regard to beneficial mutations is things that are not permanently beneficial, merely beneficial in a given situation. Even evolutionists recognize that mutations are largely harmful. Discover magazine printed an article in 2013 entitled “Most Mutations in the Human Genome are Recent and Probably Harmful”.
So can mutations be the means of change from kind to kind? From what we have discussed above, I think the answer is a clear, resounding “no”. Since mutations merely edit or damage existing information, they cannot possibly be the agents that cause a reptile to become a mammal. No evolutionist will ever admit to this, as doing so would undermine their whole theory, but mutations fail as an agent of change. They are largely benign, changing nothing, or harmful.